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Bursary award for inventive Derby College Group student

A really imaginative piece of interactive art, around the concept of ‘Sonder’, which is the the realisation that each random stranger is living a life as vivid and complex as our own, has earned a Derby College Group (DCG) Art & Design student a £400 bursary from Arts Society Derby.

Members of Arts Society Derby judged entries from five students at the Joseph Wright post-16 Academic and Arts College after they were shortlisted for the annual Bryan Harris Bursary award – named after the Society’s founder and former chairman who died eight years ago.

The winner was Art Foundation Diploma student Amy Higginbottom Cooper (19) who chose the theme of Sonder for her final project which incorporated many different styles of art.

The wall-mounted artwork not only has many creative illustrations, it also is interactive, where all the QR codes can be scanned, so that all the featured stories can be read, giving the reader a real insight into the people’s lives.

Amy Higginbottom with her artwork (winner of the bursary Award).

Amy, a former student at Derby Moor, plans to spend the bursary on an etching press for making prints to support her Fine Art degree studies at the Falmouth University this September.

She said: “I so happy to win the award, it is so good to get this type of recognition.

“I hope to refine my large skill set and figure out what medium suits me and my future.

“A big dream of mine would be to see my work in multiple exhibitions, as I enjoy making larger instalment of work, sometimes being interactive too, and therefore getting it in the public eye would be a huge goal for me. 

“Sonder is a subject I have always been interested in, walking through my life seeing and hearing snippets of passing strangers and wondering what that tells me about them and their story.

“I hoped to highlight how important it is for us humans to acknowledge and appreciate one another in depth, as we are all so different but in similar ways; and perhaps encourage a level of interest in these strangers we pass everyday with such little regard.” 

Zofia Szymanska with her fashion-based submission, inspired by skeletal armour ideology.

Vikki Fitt, Young Arts representative at Arts Society Derby, said: “We have awarded a bursary every year for over 20 years to Derby College students to support them in their University studies.

“The standard was again outstanding this year and we particularly loved the thought and care, and the variety of styles that has gone into Amy’s work, which has made the piece incredibly empathetic and thought provoking.”

Tia Beddington with her submission, a Tinkerbell themed costume piece


Tracey Ramsdale, Teacher of Art and Design added “All five contributions of the bursary were excellent, but Amy’s unique and detailed artwork was singled out for the award. Well done Amy.

“I am always incredibly proud of all the students who put so much hard work into their pieces, and it is lovely that at our Summer Exhibition they get the opportunity to show them off to friends, family and the public.”

The work of all the students will be available to see at the Joseph Wright Centre on Wednesday June 21, 5 pm to 8 pm, which is open to the public free of charge.